RaveFinancial Times (UK)What might have been a folly is a towering achievement ... In a bravado exercise in chronological orientation, which demands readers’ close attention, short chapters flit back and forth, from the 1970s to the near future, stopping off at key points in Marco’s life ... Veronesi is as sharp as a glass of grappa on the Italian obsession with appearance ... Veronesi chronicles Marco’s journey from childhood to parenthood and beyond with a light comic touch, a playfulness that focuses on his protagonist’s love of the quiet life ... It’s a testament to Veronesi’s competence that he can bring fun to such brooding themes. Not since William Boyd’s Any Human Heart has a novel captured the feast and famine nature of a single life with such invention and tenderness. Veronesi explores, with great humour, how the passage of time both expands and expunges the impact of events. And, he suggests, after the pounding of years it is only an individual’s character that determines whether or not the edifice will hold.
RaveFinancial Times (UK)Poignant ... Keegan has a keen ear for dialect without letting it overwhelm conversations ... Keegan has condensed a colossal piece of humanist fiction into a tiny volume. Hugely affecting, the story of Bill Furlong will remain with readers long after they close the book: he represents everyone whose kindness outlasts their presence.
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)... an effective blend of rural fable and snow-lashed Rocky Mountain noir ... the suspense — every nail-gun and rickety pick-up truck seems imbued with danger — is balanced by the fraternal intimacy shared by the three workmen ... The novel takes a nuanced approach to male friendship. While Butler captures the jab-and-dig banter among the paint pots and timber, there are also subtle kindnesses and considerations. And tar-black humour punctures the tension ... Butler has produced both a finely tuned literary thriller and a portrait of small-town life as a Petri dish of hope and hubris.
Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan
PositiveFinancial TimesFor Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, two Pulitzer Prize-winning American arts journalists, Bacon has been a decade-long obsession. And with Francis Bacon: Revelations, an 800-page tome, they are clearly aiming for the definitive biography. Bacon, however, proves an elusive prey ... The biographers don’t entirely unpick the psychology of a man who could go to a champagne reception while his dead lover sat slumped on a lavatory. But, although generous to their subject, Stevens and Swan have succeeded in creating an incomparable resource for art historians, dealers, curators and collectors.
Jenny Erpenbeck, trans. Susan Bernofsky
PositiveThe Independent (UK)In Visitation, Jenny Erpenbeck shows that it doesn\'t require a great aristocratic pile to draw readers into another world ... It\'s a Who Do You Think You Are? for bricks and mortar; a lineage of hope, despair, love and tragedy framed by an architect\'s dream weekend home ... Each story is followed by glimpses into the seasonal life of the local gardener. The result is a strangely ethereal fairy tale of the Reich-scarred, Stasi-suppressed era and its lingering hangover ... Erpenbeck has a lovely way of conjuring bittersweet images out of plaintive language ... If Visitation has a central theme, it appears to be that everything is temporary but that history will judge whether your part in the proceedings was morally sound. A Brandenburg lake house proves to be a memorable courtroom for this arbitration into the lives of others.
Karl Ove Knausgaard
PositiveThe Financial Times\"This is an affecting but strangely structured book. It begins midstream, with deconstructions of various paintings before any biographical context is provided. But, while the authorial journey as a thread feels a little flimsy at first, Knausgaard’s charm gradually takes hold. He brings a refreshing — at times comical — naivety to the rarefied art world.\
PositiveThe Guardian\'Both peace and war have played their part in making Rome the extraordinary place it is today,\' writes Matthew Kneale. However, his stirring history of the Eternal City is heavy on the hostilities. Rome has been occupied, ravaged and reshaped by, among others, the Gauls, Goths, Normans and Nazis, plus some domestic \'sacking\' by Mussolini’s mob ... Fractured stories come naturally to Kneale...here, he carefully pieces together an episodic portrait of a population as flexible in conflict as they are in business and matrimony.